PC Refresh: Build Value with the Right Strategy

Managing the Changing IT Landscape: PC Refresh

For many IT organizations, the new year will bring new spending budgets. And for some, there is still a need to prioritize investments, including PC refresh. Upgrading an employee’s PC may not seem like a big investment, but when you multiply it by the number of employees in an organization, the costs quickly skyrocket, and suddenly, it can feel overwhelming.

On the flip side, the cost to support and secure aging devices dwarfs devices investments. It turns out that the cost of doing nothing is much higher than the cost of doing something. And the business need for greater mobility in the enterprise is undeniable. There is also a fresh set of business devices ranging from tablets to PCs and 2 in 1 devices that are designed with both the employee and IT security in mind.

Because IT spending will increase in 2014, I believe PC refresh is one of the most strategic investments you can make.

A new year, a new investment strategy

We know that upgrading enterprise devices is a big financial endeavor, but I think there’s another factor at work: It can be very difficult for organizations to justify the business value of the investment.

IT Device Refresh Business Value.PNG

I spent a good bit of 2013 working on a detailed evaluation of the cost factors involved with PC refresh, from building a model to identifying the decision factors that determine ROI. This included identifying the key cost and value categories that impact total cost of ownership (TCO) and ROI of refresh over the life cycle of a device.

I also explored productivity use cases and variables that affect how the devices in the enterprise are used and supported by IT, in addition to the implications for business costs—again, with a focus on those with the greatest impact on ROI.

  • Device age
  • Usage model
  • Employee mobility
  • Device management

What I discovered was that the highest ROI and best financial return for the business is achieved when you optimize for a combination of user productivity and mobility, while meeting IT security needs.

Productivity depends on it

I found Facebook as an example of a company that takes control of their productivity. A CIO Journal blog captured Facebook CIO Tim Campos’s progressive approach: If an employee calls the help desk more than twice on any given issue, the device gets replaced. Campos identifies that “the cost of a laptop, $1,500 to $2,000, is minor in comparison to hampering the productivity of an employee who makes $100,000 per year.”

It’s a surprisingly simple and smart approach. The value of an employee’s time and their ability to contribute to the organization outweighs the cost of a new device. The other aspect is the rising costs of aging PCs. The older the device, the more quickly operational costs go up. The burden of fixing, maintaining, and securing older devices takes valuable IT time and resources, which takes away from innovating for the future. We need to invest ahead of this curve.

However, many organizations still wait for the device to fail before replacing, trying to milk as much return from the initial investment in the hardware.  This focus on the hardware guides us towards a strategic error in decision making - by focusing on the wrong value point.  A PC doesn’t create business value, help your business grow, or service your customers. Your employees do. So why do we overly value the cost of the PC more than the cost of the employee?

Insights on ROI

My work resulted in the creation of two IT resources designed to help organizations take a more strategic approach to PC refresh and make the case to their business partners in finance:

Will 2014 bring new devices to your organization? What are some of the key reasons driving your upgrade?


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